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Politics of Iraq

Before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, officially the Ba'ath Party ruled Iraq through a nine-member RCC, which enacted legislation by decree. The RCC's president (chief of state and supreme commander of the armed forces) was elected by a two-thirds majority of the RCC. A Council of Ministers (cabinet), appointed by the RCC, had administrative and some legislative responsibilities. Most Western observers considered Iraq a dictatorship under the personal rule of President Hussein, whom they regarded as accountable to no one. The Vice-President of Iraq was Taha Yassin Ramadan.

A 250-member National Assembly consisting of 220 elected by popular vote who serve a 4- year term, and 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces, was last elected in March 2000. Iraq is divided into 18 provinces, each headed by a governor with extensive administrative powers.

Iraq's judicial system is based on the French model introduced during Ottoman rule and has three types of lower courts--civil, religious, and special. Special courts try broadly defined national security cases. An appellate court system and the court of cassation (court of last recourse) complete the judicial structure.

The Ba'ath Party controls the government and is the only recognized political party in regime controlled territory. Recent elections allowed for only Ba'ath Party authorized candidates, resulting in the election, for example, of Uday Saddam Hussein to the National Assembly with 99.99% of the vote. The Kurdish Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Jalal Talabani are opposition parties, each of which control portions of northern Iraq. Both allow multiple political parties to operate in their areas and have held contested elections within the last year that international observers termed "generally fair". The Iraqi regime does not tolerate opposition. Opposition parties either operate illegally, as exiles from neighboring countries or in areas of northern Iraq outside regime control.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah (Arabic: الجمهوريّة العراق)
local short form: Al Iraq (Arabic: العراق)

Data code: IZ

Government type: republic

Capital: Baghdad (Arabic: بغداد)

Administrative divisions:

Iraq is divided into 18 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah)

Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit

Independence: 3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

National holiday: Anniversary of the Revolution, 17 July (1968)

Constitution: 22 September 1968, effective 16 July 1970 (provisional constitution); new constitution drafted in 1990 but not adopted

Legal system: based on Islamic law in special religious courts, civil law system elsewhere; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President SADDAM Hussein (since 16 July 1979); Vice President Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF (since 21 April 1974); Vice President Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since 23 March 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister SADDAM Husayn (since 29 May 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Mikhail AZIZ (since NA 1979); Deputy Prime Minister Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since NA May 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Hamza al-ZUBAYDI (since NA May 1994)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; Minister of Information: Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf
note: there is also a Revolutionary Command Council or RCC (Chairman SADDAM Hussein, Vice Chairman Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri) which controls the ruling Ba'th Party, and is the most powerful political entity in the country
elections: president and vice presidents elected by a two-thirds majority of the Revolutionary Command Council; election last held 17 October 1995 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: SADDAM Husayn reelected president; percent of vote - 99%; Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF and Taha Yasin RAMADAN elected vice presidents; percent of vote - NA

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (250 seats; 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces of Dahuk, Arbil, and As Sulaymaniyah; 220 elected by popular vote; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 24 March 1996 (next to be held NA March 2000)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA

Judicial branch: Court of Cassation

Political parties and leaders: Ba'th Party [SADDAM Husayn, central party leader]

Political pressure groups and leaders: any formal political activity must be sanctioned by the government; opposition to regime from Kurdish groups and southern Shi'a dissidents

International organization participation: ABEDA, ACC, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-19, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note - Iraq has an Interest Section in the Algerian Embassy headed by Mr. Akram AL DOURI; address: Iraqi Interests Section, Algerian Embassy, 2118 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone: [1] (202) 265-2800; FAX: [1] (202) 667-2174

Diplomatic representation from the US: none; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Polish Embassy in Baghdad; address: P. O. Box 2051 Hay Babel, Baghdad; telephone: [964] (1) 718-9267; FAX: [964] (1) 718-9297

Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with three green five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the phrase ALLAHU AKBAR (God is Great) in green Arabic script - Allahu to the right of the middle star and Akbar to the left of the middle star - was added in January 1991 during the Persian Gulf crisis; similar to the flag of Syria which has two stars but no script and the flag of Yemen which has a plain white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt which has a symbolic eagle centered in the white band.

See also : Iraq, Disarmament of Iraq, US plan to invade Iraq